While most news outlets, traditional and new, have picked up Twitter as a tool to disseminate their content, few are tapping into the full potential of social media because their usage of such services tends to flow only one way, a study has found.
The study comes from the Pew Research Center’s Project in Excellence in Journalism, and found some parallels between how news organizations first used the web and how they’ve moved out into social realms like Twitter and Facebook. Accounts for news sites tend to push out automated update when new content is added, but the outlets are not conversing with their users nor are they crowdsourcing information from their followers to the networks’ full potential.
Researchers tracked 3,646 tweets posted cumulatively by 13 major news organizations during six days in February- 2,969 from the outlets’ accounts and 677 from individual journalists at the included outlets. Official Twitter accounts averaged 33 tweets per day, while the individual accounts for journalists got in between 10 and 100 tweets per day. Only 2% of the accounts interacted with their Twitter followers, and just 1% linked to outside content.
Project deputy director Amy Mitchell commented on how the use of services like Twitter mimics early web usage in media and potential missed opportunities:
“There are similarities here with the early days of the Web, when news organizations rarely linked to anything outside their own walls… It bears watching whether the interactive and social attributes of Twitter eventually become a larger part of what news organizations do in this realm.”